This is the first of a new series exploring owners of the less traditional TLDs. While not focusing exclusively on generic keywords, these interviews feature end users that have chosen non .com, .net, and .org domains and what their motivation was behind it.
John Boyd is the founder of MeetingWave, but practiced intellectual property law for over a decade before launching the site. His experience includes working as a patent examiner at the US Patent Office examining applications for “superconductors”, toiling away as an associate at private law firms in NYC, and later serving as Chief IP Counsel for biotech companies and most recently a semiconductor technology company.
MeetingWave can help members meet new people for business or social purposes, while providing targeting, control, verification, privacy and flexibility. Members can propose networking meetings describing the type of people they’d like to meet, yet control who attends and whether the meeting occurs. The proposed meeting can be face-to-face (coffee, lunch, golf) or virtual (Skype, teleconference).
Mike: You found some success with a .me domain, meetwith.me. Tell me a little bit about how you came to register the domain and what your thoughts were around the .me TLD.
John: Someone tipped me off when they first opened up the .me domains and I ended up with meetwith.me which I thought could be a nice alternate name for the MeetingWave concept since it is suggestive of the service MeetingWave provides. We originally launched the site as TravelersTable.com since we thought the original traction would be travelers trying to meet new people on the road. I used to travel a lot and often found my options limited to eating alone in a hotel room or eating alone in a hotel restaurant watching a dozen other people eating alone and thought of the idea of using the web for offline targeting networking meetings with new people. After launch, we realized most people posted invites for proposed networking meetings near home or work (e.g., at nearby Starbucks) so we changed the name to avoid the suggestion the site was limited to travelers.
Mike: Did you experience any difficulty with the name being index in Google since .me is a country code TLD?
John: Well, we ended up never using the meetwith.me so can’t answer.
Mike: You eventually sold the domain. Did you find the buyer or did they seek you out?
John: I was contacted by the founder of Timebridge.com and we worked out a price and agreement. We ended up agreeing to $2,000. Some friends said I should have asked for more, but having gone through the process of getting a new name for my site (with all the squatters, trademark issues and internal debates) I didn’t want to hold them up. Startups have enough of an uphill battle without having to deal with squatters trying to stick them up. I made a little money and Timebridge got a great url. More important to me was their agreement that they would not use meetwith.me (or allow it to be used) for a website, application or service that competes with MeetingWave’s current service relating to helping members meet new people, although we agreed they could use for Timebridge’s scheduling services. MeetingWave is covered by three granted patents (and a recently allowed application) originally filed in 2000 and has improvement applications pending, but we wanted an additional layer of contractual protection.
Mike: You obviously have a liking for the .me’s as you have recently launched a landing page at vrfy.me for your MeetingWave.com site. Tell me about vrfy.me and the thought behind using a .me here.
John: We discovered an acute pain point throughout the Internet. You are probably one of the millions of people who have a profile on at least one web site. You have probably viewed the profiles of other people. Have you ever wondered whether what people say about themselves is actually true? On the flip side, wouldn’t you like others to have a way to verify things you claim on your profile, like that you graduated from UPenn or work at IBM? We learned there are 200 fake Princeton alums in one Facebook group, and fake Harvard alums on LinkedIn.
Vrfy.me solves the verification problem. Through our service, you can verify the schools you went to and the company you work for. The verification allows others to know that when you say you went to Princeton, you in fact did. When you say you work at Oracle, others will know you in fact do. And, you do not have to disclose to anyone any personally identifiable information to have these aspects of your profile verified.
My company originally had an agreement with a company to build a separate website for MeetingWave’s verification (and several mobile applications), but the agreements were breached, an arbitration followed, my company won and I recently received the first payment installment for damages. A bitter experience but moving forward.
For now, we have a vrfy.me landing page that allows users to sign up and create a MeetingWave profile url with verified email domains displayed even if not interested in using MeetingWave to meet new people and they can use that profile url virtually anywhere online to verify where they work or went to school without disclosing their identity.
Here’s a sample verified profile with my identity
And one without my identity:
Even if the user isn’t interested in meeting new people, they can use their verified profile on Craigslist, for blog comments, etc.
Mike: Would you purchase additional .me names in the future?
John: Yes, I like the .me TLD since very suggestive of particular services focused on individuals. I’m not actively looking, but if I come up with another idea, I’ll likely try to grab the .me url.
Mike: What advice would you give to other business people about selecting a domain and in particular about leveraging a non .com TLD?
John: I also like the .ly TLD since sound great with some domains (e.g., the url shortener bit.ly). There’s also .at, .it, .co, and others that can fit nicely with certain domains.
Mike: Anything else you’d like to share?
John: I’m transferring management of MeetingWave to people with more experience with SaaS business development and sales since that’s are primary focus now and resumed the practice of intellectual property law (which I enjoy more) at boydiplaw.com.
We’ll likely need a new CEO as our current CEO will need to step back into an advisor role. We’re most interested in individuals who need a new opportunity and are 100% aligned with what we are doing, rather than those with jobs and sniffing around. I believe a successful MeetingWave will help people whether they are looking for new clients, customers, job leads or people with similar meeting interests or facing similar issues and am only interested in people who are aligned with those goals.